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Over the weekend I attended the final hours of my NRA RSO (Range Safety Officer), Rifle and Shotgun Instructors training. While I won’t get into the NRA’s embargo on the word “weapon,” or that a few instructors freaked out when I carried a firearm with the muzzle pointed at the ground, I did learn something from our readers on Facebook I’d like to share with everyone.
Throughout my time in the Military, I’d always referred to M855/SS109 5.56 Ammunition (Green Tip) as armor piercing rounds or AP. For the life of me I can’t recall where I first heard that mentioned, but it was fairly common for it to be referred to as that.
One of the final taskers for the NRA courses was to construct a training aid and you’ll see a photo below of what I put together.
As you’ll see, I have the green tip marked “AP Tip,” which is how I explained my training aid to the class as well. (If you’re wondering, it was made from a cardboard tube, floral foam, paint and a little creative thinking).
After a few people pointed out that M855 isn’t AP in the Facebook comments of the photo I posted, I started doing some digging. It turns out that sure enough, M855 was removed from the ATF’s list of AP rounds. I haven’t been able to track down when this change took place, but I thought it was important to share to all those that have considered M855 to be AP rounds like I did.
While having a Steel Penetrator Tip, this doesn’t constitute M855/SS109 as “Armor Piercing.” The round was designed for increased penetration at longer ranges to combat SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) issues though.
Things may or may not be clearer once you read how the Federal Government defines AP ammunition in 18 USC sec. 921(a)(17).
(17)(A) The term “ammunition” means ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellent powder designed for use in any firearm.
(B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means-
(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or
(ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.
(C) The term “armor piercing ammunition” does not include shotgun shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Attorney General finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device.
What does all that mean?
A few things to take note of is that the classification as “armor piercing” is for bullets only, not the complete cartridge. Despite the mention of handgun caliber above, you can take that to mean that it’s a round that has been made as a handgun caliber at some point.
The bullet (projectile) must also have a core made entirely out of the metals listed above, or be a full jacketed bullet with a jacket weighing more than 25% of its overall weight. This means that the SS109/M855 bullets wouldn’t be covered, as their cores are partly steel, and partly lead. Lead isn’t listed in the metals above. Furthermore, as you’ll see in the list below, the ATF has specifically stated that the SS109/M855 bullets are exempted from AP status.
ATF AP Classified Rounds
- All KTW, ARCANE, and THV ammo
- Czech made 9mm Para. with steel core
- German made 9mm Para. with steel core
- MSC .25 ACP with brass bullet
- BLACK STEEL armor and metal piercing ammunition
- 7.62mm NATO AP and SLAP
- PMC ULTRAMAG with brass bullet (not copper)
- OMNISHOCK .38 Special with steel core
- 7.62×39 ammo with steel core bullets
ATF Exempted Rounds
- 5.56 SS109 and M855 NATO rounds, with steel penetrator tip.
- .30-06 M2 AP ammo
Hopefully that clears up some confusion for you like it did for me. You can rest easy that when a range calls for no AP rounds that you’ll be safe using M855 if desired. If you’re in the market for ammo, be sure to check out our sponsor Lucky Gunner for great online ammo prices!
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Why do some of you keep blaming Senators ??? Yes all Dems are anti gun But this is strictly Traitor Obama's doing. He couldn't get a total ban on ALL guns through the Republican house and senate so he ordered the ATF headed by his appointee to start banning all "assault" weapon ammo for any reason legal or not !!! I HATE Republicans BUT we all NEED to vote for a Republican President in 2 years so he can reverse all this TRAITOR has done !!!
From the perspective of law enforcement, however, the most relevant intent is that of a criminal who seeks to use ammunition capable of penetrating body armor when fired from a handgun. If ammunition containing the metal content enumerated in section 921(a)(17)(B)(i) can be used in a handgun—the type of firearm most frequently used by criminals whom police officers encounter on the streets—then, from the law enforcement perspective, the manufacturer’s intent that the ammunition be used for hunting or target shooting (in rifles or handguns) becomes irrelevant. The mere availability of handguns capable of using the ammunition made of the enumerated metals creates the potential for diversion to criminals who could use it in easily concealed firearms to defeat the protective vests worn by police officers – the exact officer safety concern targeted by LEOPA. Contrary to the industry’s position, law Framework for Deciding Sporting Purpose Ammunition pursuant to 18 USC 921(a)(17) enforcement representatives focused on the intent of one class of potential consumer group — those criminals who pose the greatest threat to law enforcement.
@ATF standpoint Criminals don't care about laws, they will simply use an illegal SBR or pistol with AP ammo, (real AP ammo, not M855) even with your framework. The only people you are affecting is millions of law abiding citizens, not the criminals, but you know that already. This is simply a part of a systematic attack on our 2nd amendment rights, and like all things in thiis attack, "safety" is being used to circumvent liberty.
just FYI... many 1000's of m855 rds for sale on GUN BROKER . COM... asses have bought it up and are selling it for as much as 1dollar a round...
That might be dangerous for them but last time I looked, they don't care at all about that. The entire point is they want .556mm and .223 ammo to get scarce and less of it. I guess they forgot that people can reload and shop in another state/country etc. Last time I looked, it's illegal to commit murder or attempted murder using any kind of gun so, I wondering if the target cares much what ammo is being used. I guess the only target that might care is a Government senator traveling in an armored car.
None of the reasoning is of any concern. The senators simply want to
ban another item in firearm arena. AP or not, they want this ammo gone.
It could be just that simple that they got it wrong, AP or green tip is
AP, for a reason. To reduce the number of .556 / .223 supplies,
nothing more. Using the "green tip" idea as a lever.
One of the criteria for the SS109 is penetrating 3.5mm of steel at 600m. This problem only arose from the greedy, unscrupulous gun makers that started making AR-15 Pistols. They said we will make our money now and hope the lobbyists can bail us out. I just did a quick search, and found 62 AR-15 pistols with barrels from 5.5" to 10", and no shoulder stock.
They burnt themselves. If the AR only came in 14" and longer, I do not think we would be having this problem....
@stevetwilson1984 I am replying to your post, but I am not directing this specifically towards you. I think a lot of people are getting this all confused, arguing if M855 is or isn't armor piercing ammo based on this or that spec, or this or that result, or in comparing it to any other round with equal armor penetrating capability. The only definition that matters in this case is the legal definition. And the legal definition of AP ammo is spelled out in the referenced title in this article. According to that text, M855 is not defined as armor piercing ammunition because it was not designed primarily to be used in a pistol, and it is not made ENTIRELY of the materials listed. It also has lead as a primary component. If it is made from a material which is not listed, it can not be made entirely from the materials listed. Therefore, it never required the waiver that the BATF is threatening to revoke and that revocation is their basis for banning it. The fact is that this ammunition is not armor piercing as defined by the very title they are referencing to ban it. And that people, is what you all need to focus on primarily. Also, using the BATF's own reasoning and logic that they themselves used in the Pistol Stabilizing Brace case, using M855 in a pistol would be redesigning it by using it in a wy in which it was not designed or intended for. So even if M855 was AP (which it is not by legal definition) until you actually put M855 into a pistol, it can not be considered to be designed for a pistol. And they therefor logically should not summarily make all M855 illegal just because someone MIGHT put it into a pistol, just as they couldn't find reason to make the Pistol Brace illegal, just because someone MIGHT shoulder it.
Those points, along with the fact that M855 is in fact widely used for sporting purposed, (and has never to my knowledge ever been used to shot a police officer from a pistol) makes this whole proposal a mix of fiction and farce.
The most reasonable and logical ruling that could be made is that AP ammunition can not be used in a pistol and if it is, you would then be breaking the law.
What they are doing is intentionally declaring one of the most popular forms of 5.56 ammunition illegal based on their own definition and not the law, and ignoring the actual written law declaring that they somehow know the intent of the law was different that the way it was actually written. That my friends, is a very dangerous place for them to go and if it is not challenged, they will continue to do it on a much more grande scale.
Beyond all that, M855 is widely used for sporting purposes, and primarily as rifle ammunition in that application, and therefore even if they someone stretch the legal definition to make it AP ammo, it should still qualify for the waiver for sporting purposes. They can not justify that it should be banned simply because it might be used to commit a crime while being used in a pistol. The statistical evidence does not support that position in any way. In fact, it only supports the position that millions of law abiding citizens use this ammunition every day in a legal way and to ban it would infringe their rights to keep and bear arms.
@Corey A @stevetwilson1984
The biggest problem is that the whole 1985 law has a preface of common sense, as part of it's interpretation. That trumps the wording of certain sections. If a bullet like this will go in one door and out the other of a police car (it will sometimes if it doesn't yaw), then in common sense, it is armor piercing. That is fine though since the bullet is only used by rifle.
Then some bonehead manufacturers decide to start making handguns for it. Potential 30 round armor piercing pistols. Tell me you did not see the writing on the wall when they started making these?
I know a five to ten inch pistol won't get the velocity to penetrate a car or body armor, but that really does not matter due to them having the right to say that armor piercing is in a handgun.
You should each write a letter to all the yahoos like Sig and the others that made useless AR pistols, with the most likely of likely outcomes being the ban on the SS109/855.
@stevetwilson1984 Police car doors are not armor by any means of the imagination. Having the same round used in an AR15 rifle in an AR15 pistol has nothing to do with the armor piercing ability of the round. A 44 mag is also a pistol and will go through both sides of a car door. What is the difference between an ar rifle and pistol? This whole thing is about gun control. One step at a time they are trying to disarm us. They can't take our guns so they will take the ammo. They are starting with the ar15 steel tip because they believe they will get the most support stopping the so called ASSAULT weapon ammo. It is all a bunch of bullshit.
@DocMathis @stevetwilson1984 This is no different than how they created hysteria over weapons by calling them "assault weapons", now they use the term "armor piercing". Libturds create hatred by using words and redefining those words. Racism, radical, profiling, discrimination, white supremacy, etc. all do the same thing, they create a problem that doesn't exist, then libturds create laws to punish those who engage in those fictitious actions.
@stevetwilson1984 @Corey A Can you reference the preface you mention, what part of the title is this, and how does it legally trump the specific legal definitions within the law itself? Is this a part of the law that isn't codified?
I agree the writing was on the wall, and quite frankly I felt the ruling on the pistol stabilizing brace was done intentionally to increase AR pistol popularity and sales in order to further justify this ruling.
Stay on focus here. Armor piercing or not, they are proposing a solution for a problem that does not exist.
TAKE ACTION NOW: https://www.nraila.org/take-action/write-your-lawmakers/stop-batfe/
I'm perfectly focused.. The issue as far as I can see, and as evidenced by other responses, is if the the ammunition specified is or is not an armor defeating round.. Possibly you should consider re-calibrating your focus.
Kunick Arms Training
Bull! I don't care what anyone does or does not classify SS109 as, I've burned enough of it to know. Fire it at a grade IIA Kevlar vest one time and see what happens. OR, fire M855 out of a rifle at a 1/4 " mild steel plate and watch what happens behind. Of course it's AP.
Yes, I also called them armor piercing while I was in the military, my first exposure to them was prior to 1986 but even after that, we referred to them as armor piercing. In 1986, the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (LEOPA) amended the 1968 Gun Control Act (GCA). The ATF exempted the green tip ammo (removed the armor piercing status), because when LEOPA was passed there were no hand guns that could fire that ammo, more than single shot (I’m sure some enterprising gunsmith or handy man created a custom one but none were commercially available). The currently changes will apply to the SS109 and M855 rounds, not .30-06 because of LEOPA. The important point here is the language of the LEOPA; armor piercing does not apply to rifles, only handguns.
Personally, when I go deer hunting I do not use green tip .223 ammo, it doesn’t make sense to me (muzzle velocity is what I pay attention to since I’m concerned about accuracy). I have a hard time being too wrapped up in conspiracy theories, so I have only stated verifiable facts to this point.
Opinion: This is the biggest step the big bad, wildly evil administration has done to “limit our Second Amendment rights”; classifying and ammunition that most military people refer to as armor piecing, as armor piercing. I am tired of paying through the nose, when I can get it, for ammunition due to unreasonable and fabricated crises. I can tell you that I have had a heck of a time buying ammo (.223, .22, 9mm, etc.) and have had to pay a premium because of the numerous scares and outright falsehoods, many perpetuated by the gun industry and NRA. In the firearms area, gun makers and ammunition manufacturers have gained the most from the current administration’s last six years in office. Guns owners and hunters such as myself, have paid the price of this manufactured issue.
"The M855A1 was able to penetrate 3⁄8 inch (9.5 mm) of steel plate at 300 meters. The round even penetrated concrete masonry units, similar to cinder blocks, at 75 meters from an M16 and at 50 meters from an M4, which the M855 could not do at those ranges." Aberdeen Proving Ground media day May 4th 2011. So perhaps there is confusion about whether they are talking about the A1 round or the older version of the M855. That said, 3/8 inch of steel at 300 yards I would consider amour piercing.
We all know there are many fights ahead to defend our rights. Having said that I would suggest you all contact your representatives and voice your opinion in a calm,clear, manner and hope our system works in our favor on this issue. In the mean time purchase as many as you think you need. I personally have a couple hundred and will put them aside for when or if needed. If the time comes that they are the opposing force will bring plenty of mil spec rounds with them to re supply from.
If you want to stop the AR-15 ammo ban the deadline to submit opposing comments is March 16th!
You can sign the letter, spread the word, and join the fight at: https://FightTheATF.org/stop-the-62gr-m855-ammo-ban/
Due to the recent (Feb 15, 2015) decision by the ATF to remove the exemption for M855 ammunition, the green tippes 5.56 rounds are NOW considered "armor piercing."
"Some ammunition that was previously exempted as “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes,” specifically 5.56mm constituent projectiles of SS109 and M855 cartridges, will again be regulated as “armor piercing ammunition.” Except as provided by law, no person may manufacture or import such ammunition, and manufacturers or importers may not sell or deliver such ammunition. ATF will maintain the exemption for 30-06 M2AP cartridges." (Full memo here: http://www.atf.gov/sites/default/files/assets/Library/Notices/atf_framework_for_determining_whether_certain_projectiles_are_primarily_intended_for_sporting_purposes.pdf)
Due to the recent (Feb 15, 2015) decision by the ATF to remove the exemption for M855 ammunition, the green tippes 5.56 rounds are NOW considered "armor piercing."
Some ammunition that was previously exempted as “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes,” specifically 5.56mm constituent projectiles of SS109 and M855 cartridges, will again be regulated as “armor piercing ammunition.” Except as provided by law, no person may manufacture or import such ammunition, and manufacturers or importers may not sell or deliver such ammunition. ATF will maintain the exemption for 30-06 M2AP cartridges. (Full memo here: http://www.atf.gov/sites/default/files/assets/Library/Notices/atf_framework_for_determining_whether_certain_projectiles_are_primarily_intended_for_sporting_purposes.pdf)
So ISIS can have AP ammo but we can't? I guess I had better put a few cases back before they declare them illegal.
It is ap. Read the statute. B/c 556 is a hunting or sporting caliber it is exempt. Section c in ur little print out
If penetrating a car door is the criterion for AP, then just about all ammo could be banned. FYI I've tested penetration of various materials with different calibers and bullet types. For one test I used 1/4 inch diamond plate aluminum which was easily penetrated by .22 (either from a handgun or rifle) and by 9mm with no trouble. A .45 wouldn't go through, so I guess we'll all be encouraged by the Emperor to carry a tame, non-AP 1911.
Though I have heard of M855 being called armor piercing, when I went to small arms instructor for the Navy, we were taught that, in the case of M855, the "AP" stood for "anti-personel" instead of "armor piercing" because the core was not all steel but steel and lead, as mentioned in the article. Good explanation though. Thank you!
I thought that standard military issue 5.56 was green tip. This is the first I have ever heard of standard NATO rounds having any AP capability. I was always taught that 'black tip' was AP and 'orange tip' tracer etc. When we would field day brass on the range's i would always find disfigured and shredded copper bullets that had impacted other than the target. There is nothing armor piercing about green paint over copper. I have also seen an M4 fire 14 rounds of green tip into a SAPI plate with no penetration. Anyway I learned this stuff in the Corps...am I that off base? For the life of me this seems like a hoax or the result of an intentional attempt to gouge ammo customers. Thanks.
@rattlerjake A magnet.
On the other hand the constitution has a nice little part about ex-post facto "after the fact". Even if they do ban it they technically cannot take it from you. Doesn't mean they won't try though...
@Jaws - One thing that this illegal and unconstitutional law will cause is everyone with green tip will remove the green paint, how will the ATF know the difference then?
@rattlerjake @rattlerjake I guess they won't need to know the difference if it is banned out right. Not a weapons expert by any means but a black tip AP 5.56 is tungsten core. A green tip 5.56 NATO is steel core? So is a .223 also steel core? I understand they are slightly different. MILSPEC vs SAAMI is that correct? Is any bullet can shoot through a car door considered armor piercing? 3/4 inch thick steel? A certain level vest? Barrel length and velocity come into play greatly too. Please feel free to edumicate me if I'm way off base. Thanks
It isn't and won't be illegal to own it. It will be illegal to manufacture for sale or import it for sale to civilians. No need to remove the green paint but once your supply is gone there will be no more and of course our military and LE will still have it but we civilians won't be able to buy it surplus so most likely any surplus will be destroyed, distributed to LE or sold out of the country. Thats more of our tax dollars wasted and more ammo going to the black markets or foreign governments and further militarization of law enforcement disproportional to the general population.
@Corey A You're ASSUMING! When California, Connecticut, etc. banned magazines that hold more than 5 rounds (or whatever it is), it didn't grandfather anything, it immediately made anyone who owns them criminals. Same with some of the gun laws in New Jersey, New York, etc. These anti-gun turds don't give a rat's ass if you already own what they ban, they don't want you to have it!
@rattlerjake If they are serious they will take samples and cut them up and also test fire them. They test fired my confiscated wallet holster and when they returned the pistol gave me a copy of the lab reports.
I am not assuming anything. I actually read the framework document which the BATF is using as a basis to ban this ammunition. In that document they affirm the fact that is is now legal to own and it will still be legal to own by federal regulations even if banned for manufacturing to civilians. I suggest everyone read the document because if you do you will see how they are slanting the facts in order to justify banning it and are in fact making law by doing so. The BATF can not make laws they can only enforce existing laws. Their interpretation goes far beyond the written law and they are actually redefining legal terms that are already clearly defined within the title referenced.
Please contact ATF concerning this matter. Please be mature. Copy your legislators. Join the NRA and the GOA (NRA legislative clout; GOA NO compromise attitude). Get active in support of the 2nd Amendment. VOTE.
Thanks to MAC on YouTube for the addresses and the sample letter.
ATF email: [email protected]
Fax: (202) 648-9741.
To whom it may concern,
I am writing to voice my strong opposition to the proposed change to current law that would make it illegal to manufacture, import or sell on the open market M855 / SS109 ammunition.
The claimed purpose of this change is to “protect the lives and safety of law enforcement officers from the threat posed by ammunition capable of penetrating a protective vest when fired from a handgun”.
As the Technical Branch well knows, all rifle ammunition of a common caliber such as .223 / 5.56 is capable of penetrating threat level IIA and IIIA body armor regardless of the firearm that is used to fire it. M855 / SS109 is no more of a threat to law enforcement than M193 or Horandy VMAX loads are.
It’s also worth noting that rifle caliber pistols are rarely used in violent crime, their usage is a statistical zero for all practical purposes, which further begs the question as to why this proposed rule change is being considered.
Banning the availability of affordable surplus ammunition under the false pretense that it’s in the name of officer safety is a clear violation of our 2nd Amendment rights.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
CITY / STATE
@mamalukino Well said ... I'll be using this and passing it on to my friends! thanks, rj
I was an 55B/89B ammunition specialist in the Army for 10 years. We never distinguished M588 as armor piercing. The round itself may go through a plate of body armor, but not because of the steel tip encased in the round. It is the velocity of 3600 fps that allows the round to penetrate armor and not fragment. The round was designed not to fragment upon entering the body of an enemy. The round literally is meant to ricochet, usually off a bone of an enemy upon entering its body and exit on a different trajectory than it came in at to cause more damage internally to the enemy. This whole classifying the round as AP is just a way to limit the amount of ammunition for the civilian sector and drive up the costs of shooting for sport and hobby.
@Ammodawg86 Thanks for adding your comment!
@Ammodawg86 - Mr. ammo specialist, it's M855, not M588; if you're going to tout your professional background and claim to be an expert, try proof reading your comment before posting, duh! Mistakes like that are what lessen the credibility of arguments against these anti-gun communists.
Did I read 18USC sec 921(a)(17)(C) from above correctly that it is the Attorney General that makes the determination if a round is Armor Piercing and NOT the BATF?
I. PUBLICPARTICIPATIONATF will carefully consider all comments, as appropriate, received on or before March 16, 2015, and will give comments received after that date the same consideration if it is practical to do so, but assurance of consideration cannot be given except as to comments received on or before March 16, 2015.ATF will not acknowledge receipt of comments. Submit comments in any of three ways (but do not submit the same comments multiple times or by more than one method):ATF website: [email protected] the instructions for submitting comments. Fax: (202) 648-9741.Mail: Denise Brown, Mailstop 6N-602, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226: ATTN:AP Ammo Comments.FOR FURTHERINFORMATION CONTACT:Denise Brown, Enforcement Programs and Services, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226; telephone: (202) 648-7070
The comment period on this subject is STILL open on the BATF site, anyone who does not "At Least" go there and comment, has little to say if it goes through.
@Charles Easter Exactly where does one go to make a comment?
[email protected] This is an Email page to their Comments.